Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Month: July, 2010

The Beach Town

A classic strip: hotels, beach shacks, the pavilion, arcades, bars. People flood the streets, most in cutoff jean shorts and flaunting gaudy tattoos. The signs are worn, and the paint is peeling. But its rich in flavor. A beach town, no matter how old and worn, is a beautiful thing.

I’m at Misquamicut State Beach in RI right now, where it is pouring rain. Except it’s actually kind of nice here- never expected that.

Don’t get me wrong- Misquamicut is NOT a ‘nice’ beach; its kind of trashy, a little too crowded, and it IS in Rhode Island (kidding). But its got that feel- the summer beach house, carnival, ‘I’m going to be young forever and nothing can stop me’ feel. It’s the type of place where you run into the ocean at midnight and sneak into hotel pools. Rules don’t exist; reality doesn’t matter. And when you sit and watch the sunset across the marshes, staring out across nothing but green and blue, you know that you’re at the corner of the world, away from everything.

I’m hiding under my towel now, wrapped in an over-sized sweatshirt as the sky erupts. No swimming allowed today- the life guards won’t allow it with the lightning. But there’s something kind of nice about the rain. It’s different. It’s penetrating. It’s calm.
It’s kind of like the beach town itself.

Long live the Barefoot Bandit!

When I heard that Colton Harris-Moore had been arrested on Sunday, I cried a little inside. Since I first learned of the ‘Barefoot Bandit’ ‘s existence just over a year ago, I’ve been following what was available about his exploits, looking up to that kid as a hero in the process. It takes serious gut to be able to look society in the eye and just say, “Screw it,” like Colton did- and I respect that. So what if he broke the law? Colton Harris-Moore is one of the greatest people that has ever lived, and I mean that.

I know locals and actual victims of Colton’s adventures are cursing my ignorance right now, but really, can you really look at this kid with only hatred? Some of the articles that I’ve read thus far quote individuals as ‘celebrating’ the captivity, now they ‘can sleep safely at night,’ they had been ‘living in fear.’ Please. Colton stole your stuff. Expensive stuff, don’t get me wrong. He might’ve damaged it in the process. But how can you not look the nineteen-year-old who managed to fly your PLANE, crash land it, and survive with at least slight admiration? This kid is awesome.

Yes, stealing is illegal, and the Barefoot Bandit stole a lot. He stole cars and boats and planes. He evaded the law for TWO years (which is unreal with today’s GPS and criminal technology- especially for someone so young). But Colton never set out to HURT anyone or anything of TRUE value. He’s not a sick mass-murderer plaguing society. He’s a kid with a less than par childhood who decided to take matters into his own hands, to create his own adventure with his own rules. How many of us everyday secretly wish we could get up and run away to a far-away place and live the life that we truly want to live, but never have the nerve to do so? To look at the Barefoot Bandit with disdain is hypocrisy at its finest.

I’m not saying that we all should pack up and run across the countryside thieving and conniving. I’m not even saying that what Colton did was ‘right.’ But I do believe that there is a lesson to be learned from this young criminal, and that lesson is not ‘don’t steal.’ Colton is a living, breathing example of freedom, of making the most of your life because it belongs to you and to no one else. So if you don’t want to go to work today, don’t. There are too many things to explore in the world to waste time at places you don’t want to be, doing things that you don’t want to do. Stay true to yourself. To me, that’s real integrity. And Colton-Harris Moore has that.

I admire the Barefoot Bandit; I don’t care if that renders me a crime-loving, backwards member of society. His story is one of the greatest of our time, a manifestation of ageless human desire. And, at the very least, he provided lots of entertainment. Give it two weeks- I’m predicting the next adventure begins with an escape on the back of a fire-breathing dragon. Or at least government aircraft. There is no way that we have heard the last of Colton Harris-Moore.

So long live the Barefoot Bandit!

Puppy’s First Beach Trip

Yesterday, I took my 10-year-old ‘puppy,’ Penny to the beach for the first time! It was adorable- she had no idea what to do with the water, so she would run in, only to run back out as the waves attacked her. She rolled around in the sand a lot too. Don’t worry- I gave her lots of water (from water bottles of course- her favorite), and I rewarded her at the end of the day with a delicious vanilla icecream cone! Overall, I’d say it was definitely an exciting day for Penny. And I had fun too =)

Penny at the beac


(Written January 18, 2009)

36,970 feet in the air. I’m on another plane, another departure, and I can’t help but to wonder what I’m doing, what I’m supposed to be doing. Again.

I always see my life at the airport. Something about the pure independence triggers the sensation of loneliness; it is the manifestation of truly belonging to no one, of placing every fiber of your existence and the possibility of its continuance in the hands of a something beyond yourself. Everyone is going somewhere. Where? Why? We don’t know. Meanwhile, I am stuck here just waiting, waiting, suspended between one life and another, with nothing to do but… wait.

The suddenly, there’s the rush and the roar and life is fast forwarded. Speeding, speeding, will I ever return again? What’s waiting for me when I arrive? Will it ever be the same ? There’s the window Bonnie pressed her face to – was that really five months ago? Everything was so different then; it’s incredible that so much can change in a mere second.

I was anxious then, and I am anxious now, though I no longer show it. Flying has a way of doing that to a person, but not because one is afraid of the actual flight. It’s much deeper; it’s the fear of life and its journeys passing before our eyes, the realization that nothing is certain. The journey is not in our hands, after all; we do not know what lies before us.

And now, I’m suspended over the sea, thinking. The city lights have long disappeared from view. Boston, my beautiful home, is miles away and, with it, everyone I love.

 And now a new destination calls. For now, though, I belong to nowhere.

Scituate Harbor

I love the little things. I love sitting under the gazebo on the harbor; eating icecream; and watching the boats, selecting which one is ‘ours.’ I love running down to the beach in the middle of the night, jumping in the ocean, being with my friends. I love Scituate and every moment I’ve spent there.

Everyone has that place- that place that defines an entire phase of your life. And, for me, when I think of the best times, the hard times, the times that really brought us together, I’m automatically transported to that small little harbor-side town, with its picture-perfect main street beach shops and sail-boat speckled waterfront, the lighthouse keeping watch from across the bay. It was in Scituate, after all, that we first really came to know one another, on that rock at the edge of the sand. We sat there, against it, under the stars wondering what would become of us. But that was two years ago, and now, here we are again, tonight, wondering what the meaning of life is. The rock talks have always been deep, special, and we know that- which is why we respect the place so much.

But we also remember. We remember all the times we might have otherwise forgotten (or never even known of)- like bears, and coolers, and togas; champagne corks and broccoli trees; ultimate spoons, and i’m yours, and sprinting to the beach, and the tide washing away our clothes. There were carnivals and kayaking adventures, fires, and smores. We set off the smoke alarm and we made lots of toast. Heritage Day, dinner at TK’s, icecream at Dribbles,  and biking all around the harbor- all these things have come to shape us in ways impossible to define. Sitting on the rock tonight, we couldn’t help but to think of how much we owed that cute little town.

I don’t live in Scituate (yet); I’m not even there every day. But it’s just one of those places that feels right. Our lives by the beach may be simple, but I believe that it’s this simplicity that has made us who we are.

And as we walk down by the water with our icecream cones in hand, I know we are the luckiest kids alive.

Spontaneous Rafting

Kim thought that we were both insane; looking back on the situation, I think she was probably right. But, as we ran in our bathing suits down the street across the hot pavement to the beach shack, we thought SHE was insane- how could buying a massive beach raft ever NOT be a good idea? Anyways, Kim remained sitting on Brant Rock Beach, while Cahill and I made the difficult decision about which vessel to purchase for our adventures. We, ultimately, decided we were “going big or going home.” And we were NOT going home…

Brant Rock Beach is a small, charming beach at the very end of RT-139 and Marshfield, itself. The public can access it, but it’s mostly utilized by the locals, whose quaint beach houses line the concrete seawall that stretches across its entire length. Each year on the third of July, the strip goes wild with block parties, cookouts, and, of course, fireworks like you’ve never seen before- all courtesy of the locals and rentals. With even the police sitting back and enjoying the show, it’s always an amazing night!

So, eager to participate in the festivities, my friends and I headed down to the beach around 3:30ish, with hopes of frolicking in the ocean in the back of our minds. It was a beautiful day.  After parking at the marina that houses my grandfather’s boat, we embarked on the half-mile trek to the ocean, passing a classic beach-shack store along the way. We joked about buying one of the giant rafts tied to the fence out front. And on we continued…

Upon our arrival, running across the rocky beach and into the water was literally our immediate reaction. The water was surprisingly warm for Brant Rock- even in the summer. We jumped and danced around. And then we stopped. Cahill and I made eye contact. “We NEED to go back and get that raft.”

Despite the bewilderment of Kim, twenty minutes and $62 later, Cahill and I emerged from the break in the concrete onto the beach hauling the epic ‘M4 BEACH RAFT’ over our heads. “LOOK KIM! LOOK! WE BOUGHT A RAFT!” Everyone on the beach turned to observe the obnoxious kids championing the obnoxious raft. I think Kim literally cried from laughing so hard. Needless to say, we wasted no time setting sail on our maiden voyage and paddling across the sea.

Amid much arguing and fighting and hitting each other and especially hitting Cahill, we somehow managed to journey away from the beach and out into the water, where Kim and I decided to jump into its depths- well, Kim jumped, and I fell over backwards before I had the chance to jump, no thanks to Cahill. Soon, Cahill joined us too, and, next thing we knew, we were all playing in the ocean like little kids again- all around our giant raft! It was amazing!

As the M4 is the largest raft model available, we had no problem comfortably fitting three people across the spacious interior, when we finally tired of swimming. And so, sprawled out across the rubber surface, we eventually decided to forget that everything existed and began to float, float away, watching the people on the beach transform into mere colorful specs.

However, Kim has this irrational fear of drifting out to sea and dying. She had this insane thought that our careless activity could become extremely dangerous. Psht. Not wanting anything to do with it, Cahill and I tried to convince her that it would be o.k. if we drifted away and never returned, that she should just forget everything, and that we should simply let the raft gods take over. Apparently, though, Kim isn’t as devoted to the raft gods as we are, so our reassurance fell on deaf ears. After attempting to singlehandedly paddle the monster raft while the rest of us slept on the ends, she plunged into the ocean and began to propel us back to shore. Thank God, because I sure as hell wasn’t planning on moving anytime soon.

Once we had returned to a reasonable distance from the beach, Cahill and I conveniently woke up from our sun nap and invited Kim to rejoin us in the raft for a game of Pirates. We decided to christen our vessel the “Black Pearl,” but we also wanted to call it “Poseidon,” so really it had two names that we used interchangeably. To our left, the jetty from which Brant Rock derives its name jutted out into the sea. “LAND HO!,” we cried, and began to furiously navigate through sharp rocks and seaweed beasts in an attempt to reach its surface. After several ‘near death’ experiences where we occasionally found ourselves stuck on a rock (during which we made Kim get out and paddle), we successfully docked THEBLACKPEARLPOSEIDON at the tip of the rock, which we claimed for ourselves and our pirate people as KIMSAMCAHILL Island.

Having effectively discovered new land and survived the trials of the sea, it seemed only fitting that we should begin our return voyage. Navigating the raft away from the rocky ocean floor was a task within itself, but, after viciously paddling (I actually helped this time!), we made it back to the ocean water, where we floated for another half hour or so , before, finally returning to the beach. It was, overall, a beautiful maiden voyage.

But, if you think the epic-ness of our day ends here, you are completely wrong. The maiden voyage was only the start of our raft adventures…

Throughout the day, we had, essentially, irreversibly bonded with our raft. It was unhealthy. It was like our child. And like a child, it became the deciding factor in all our evening choices. (i.e. Let’s walk down the block! But what about the raft? Damn it). We didn’t really think this one out before…

Fortunately, as we were now starving, some innovative thinking afforded us the luxury of a delicious sit-down meal on top of the ‘Venus II’ restaurant across from the beach (one of my childhood favorites). And by innovative thinking, I mean that we braved the thick marsh behind the building and tied our baby to a tree out of sight. Leaving it for the first time was, by far, one of the most difficult things we ever had to do, but (with frequent checkups during dinner) we somehow survived.

One pan-seared swordfish, shrimp scampi, and an angus burger later, we joyously retrieved the M4 from the brush, eager to return it to its natural ocean habitat in time for the fireworks. The sun, after all, was almost set; it was only a matter of time before the beach wall lit up with color. It was the event for which we had been waiting for all day.

Now joined by my sister, Erika, my friends and I returned to the beach, where we positioned our raft-baby directly in front of the beach entrance, under the perfectly clear deep navy sky and the thousands and thousands of visible stars. The tide had drifted out, and new people spread across every space of the sand. One house set one off. Then another. And another. And another. And so it began.

I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a firework show as magical and enlivening as the one that I experienced on Brant Rock Beach that night. With explosions painting the sky to our left and right, in front of us and behind us, literally, we were engulfed in the colorful flames. They were over the ocean. They were in the sky. One even miss-fired and hit a house (there was no damage, don’t worry). Lying in my new raft, with my favorite people, watching the show that surrounded me, I could not think of anywhere in the entire world that I would rather be that there. It was perfect.

But, eventually, the day had to end, and before I knew it, the four of us were laughing and fighting as we attempted to haul the giant raft all the way down the street back to the marina. At least we provided some good entertainment for the traffic-wedged cars lining the road leading from the beach. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we made it back to my car- me, Cahill, Kim, Erika, and Raft, all in one piece.

The raft is now in the trunk of my car, deflated, but even without air, it literally consumes the entire space. I fought and fought to keep it alive- we tried putting the seat down in the car, tilting it sideways, tying it on the roof. But in the end, there was absolutely no way we could avoid pulling the plug.

As I have no pump, I’m not sure when the M4 will come to life again. I have no idea if we’ll ever truly play with it as we did on the third of July. For all I know, it may sit in the trunk of my car, or the basement of my house, untouched forever. But, even if it was only for that day, it was worth it- all sixty-two dollars. True, buying the raft was impulsive, even frivolous. You can argue that we didn’t plan accordingly, we foolishly wasted for a mere moments joy. Except irresponsible or not, buying that raft will be something that I will remember for my entire life.

So yes, I bought a giant raft this weekend. Spontaneously. I didn’t need a raft. I wasn’t in the market for one. It wasn’t necessary. But, I bought it anyways, and I don’t regret it one bit.

Sometimes, I’ve learned, you just have to live in the moment.


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